U.S. Gets D+ For Infrastructure, Again

By Andrew Witzel

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) rated Americas infrastructure as a D+ in the last report card issued in 2013. Today they issued an updated report and again, the rating given was D+ with very little improvement shown over the past four years. In the report, their estimate to bring this score up to an adequate B- would be the investment of at least $4.59 trillion by the year 2025. Greg DiLoreto, chair of the ASCE’s Committee on America’s Infrastructure, had this to say:

To see real progress, we need to make long-term infrastructure investment a priority.

The report really is that bad and mediocre improvement over the last four years demonstrates just how low a priority this country’s infrastructure truly has become. The report estimates that each American family spends $3,400 in disposable income a year due to the poor infrastructure of roads, water works, and other utilities. Traffic fatalities increased by 7 percent from 2014 to 2015, with 35,092 people dying on America’s roads. Water systems are leaking trillions of gallons of drinking water each year due to water main breaks. There is also an estimated 2,000 dams that are at high risk of catastrophic failure.

In an address to Congress last week, Trump said he would pressure lawmakers to pass legislation that would produce $1 trillion in infrastructure investment and millions of new jobs. Current investment in infrastructure sits at approximately $2.3 trillion, and with another $1 trillion is still short by $1.3 trillion. A stronger committment is required from Congress if we are to repair or replace the failing and broken infrastructure in the country. The future of infrastructure does not look promising with a $54 billion military spending bill and a pending overhaul of the Affordable Care Act yet to be determined how costly it may be.

The ASCE has an A-to-F grading of 16 infrastructure categories, with A being the top grade. Of the 16 the report measured, seven areas showed progress and three areas declined. Significant improvement was shown in the rail industry due to a significant spend of $27.1 billion in 2015, which received a B. Conversely, continued decline in rail and bus systems that are consistently underfunded, are facing a $90 billion rebuilding backlog.

Americas drinking water systems have been attracted wide-spread notice, but are still ranked D in the report. Water main breaks waste more than 2 trillion gallons of treated drinking water per year and monitoring of legacy and emerging contaminants still is not being done in most states. In many of the older cities, primarily on the east coast, pipes are close to or have exceeded their estimated 75 to 100 year lifespans. Adding to this is the presence of lead pipes in older homes all across the country, the problem is getting much worse at an exponential pace.

The future of our country depends on the reliability and safety of our own infrastructure systems. Continuing to be one of the most powerful countries in the world will become increasingly more difficult if we can’t sustain our home land. It’s time to start deciding if its more important to have a larger military and modernized nuclear arsenals or have a country where the citizens are happy, safe and living comfortably.

I'm a middle aged tech geek with a passion for computers, technology, politics and all the bits in the middle between 0 and 1. I am what could be considered a moderate progressive and like to consider all sides of a debate before taking a position.

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